So much happened this month that it really feels like you’re trying to make up for lost time after being sick all through December. This month you’ve started playing several new games, you’re working towards talking and cruising, you started recognizing faces in photos and you are constantly interacting with the people around you, whether it’s your friends at the coffee shop, your grandparents, or random people you charm at the supermarket. More than anything else this month, I will remember that you were constantly laughing and having a good time, even if sometimes you were doing so when your mom and I really wanted you to go to sleep.
Probably the coolest thing that’s happened this month is your newfound interest in playing games with us. Early in the month, you started raising both your arms over your head in what is alternately known as the touchdown or superstar move. You will be crawling along, playing with something when you suddenly look up at whoever is near you, and throw your arms into the air (like you just don’t care), and then laugh when they do it, too.
That game quickly evolved into waving, which is currently your favorite thing to do. For several weeks, I made a point to wave and say “Hi!” or “Bye!” whenever I entered or left the room you were in. At first you would just stare at me, puzzled, and then one day you tentatively raised your hand and gave me a little wave. Since the positive feedback from that, you basically spend all your time waving — at me, at your momma, at the cats, at photos on the wall, at blank spots on the wall, and at passing cars and christmas lights outside. Sometimes when you’re feeling adventurous, you wave with both hands, which has charmed your grandmothers to no end.
You love to play peek-a-boo, and you even have two variations on the game. There’s the classic where I hold up a blanket (or throw it over your head) and you quickly pull it down and laugh, and there’s the version where I hold you, and your mom hides behind me. You shake with laughter as you try to guess which side of my head your mom will peek out behind, and you’ll try to peek around the other side to catch her before she’s ready.
Admittedly, these are the most simplistic games imaginable, but you take great delight in them, and what I love is that you will initiate them with us. There’s nothing more fun than walking into a room to see you light up and wave at me and then laugh when I wave back.
You started sticking your tongue out a couple of weeks ago as you were exploring your new top teeth, and you seemed suprised when your mom started sticking her tongue back out at you. You love to play this game with her when you’re sitting in your crib getting ready for bed. You’ll stick your face up against the bars like a prison inmate and stick out your tongue, and then when your mom puts her face right up close to yours and sticks out her tongue you crack up and throw yourself backwards, rolling around your crib before coming back for another round.
You’re very ticklish, especially if you’re in a silly mood, and if I give you a zerbert on your side or belly when I’m changing you into your pajamas for the night. You’ve also got a ritual when your mom puts you to bed most nights where she puts you in your crib to tumble around a bit. I guess you’ve realized that with the padded crib bumpers and mattress that it’s a safe place, because you hurl yourself around in there in ways that are almost scary to watch, laughing and giggling as you flop onto your belly and then quickly twist around to sitting, only to hurl yourself backwards into a corner. I’ve even watched you bonk your head against the bars once or twice, but you were having too much fun to notice and just kept rolling around as I cringed and waited for you to cry.
We keep your baby dolls in your crib, and you always seem delighted to see them. When I put you into your crib or the playpen, I usually pick one of them up and hold it in front of you and you smile and coo, and then when I make the doll give you a kiss you grab it in a big bear hug, and chew on its face. It’s funny because we try to avoid falling into the princess-and-ponies gender trap, but it’s hard because you adore anything that looks like a baby, and you get way more excited about them than any other toys like balls, blocks or trucks.
When you get together with your friends (other babies from the neighborhood whose moms hang out at the coffee shop, or go to the same groups), you spend most of your time playing — And by playing, I mean that you crawl over, grab whatever your friend is playing with, chew on it, and then turn around and sit on them. Your mom doesn’t seem to be worried about you turning into a bully or anything, you just see that whatever the other kids have is the most interesting item in the room, and you must have it. Fortunately, you’re not possessive, because you are quickly distracted by some other object that someone else has picked up, and the cycle begins again. It will be interesting to watch how this pattern evolves as you and your friends get bigger and more social.
To be fair, your mom says that you are also fond of handing a toy to a friend, letting them chew on it for a minute, and then taking it back to start over again. Honestly, you don’t sound like a great friend, but I’m sure that all your buddies are just as amoral as you are, and you haven’t been kicked out of any groups or anything, so I guess it’s okay.
You and your friends all share a fascination with faces, and this extends to each other as well as the adults in your life. You all spend lots of time grabbing each other’s hair and noses and pulling on hair. You mom says that it’s a lot of fun to watch a group of babies spend 20 minutes just pawing at each other’s heads.
You also started making faces. A few months ago, you went through a brief phase where you would scrunch up your face or squint your eyes when you laugh — something I heard another mom call the “mouse face.” You only did that for a few weeks, and then it disappeared, but recently it’s come back, and I think it’s something you do on purpose when you’re feeling silly, because you usually do it when you’re making eye contact with me.
The other face was a complete surprise because it really came out of nowhere. One night after you and your mom had been playing in the bath, I got you out and wrapped you in a towel. You were feeling particularly goofy and as I put you on the changing table, you suddenly wiggled your arms out of the towel, held them up over your head and made this straining, grimacing face. After I checked to make sure you weren’t just pooping, I realized that you had just made a new face, and when I made it back, you laughed and did it several more times.
In the last week or so, you’ve been working towards standing and cruising. You’re not quite doing it yet, but every now and then, if you’re motivated (say, by a favorite toy on the couch), you’ll pull yourself up onto a chair or a table leg. Usually, this only lasts a few seconds, and then you plop back down and crawl away, but it’s a portent of things to come for sure.
You’ve always been somewhat interested in books, but it’s really blossomed in the last month. Of the toys scattered around the living room, a good third are books, and we frequently look into the living room from the kitchen to see you cooing and chirping to yourself as you turn the pages inGoodnight, Moon or one of the picture books full of baby animals.
In particular, you’ve really fallen in love with a chewable photo book your mom made for you. We keep it in the car because it’s easy to grab and chew on during car trips, but you’ve never seemed very interested in the photos until recently. Now you’ll open the pages and laugh and smile at the photos of me, or your grandparents or your uncles — and then you chew on them.
You’ve liked photos (especially of babies) for quite awhile now — there’s a photo of Milo on the fridge near your jump-up that you like to talk to — but in the last month, you’ve suddenly started recognizing faces other than babies, and now whenever we walk down the hall to your room, you start cooing and waving at the photos. Your favorites right now seem to be a big photo of Oskar when he was little, and a photo of your mom and I with your Uncle Urn and Aunt Kat and Uncle Dave and Aunt Rose on vacation. It’s really funny to watch you look from one photo to the next, smiling and waving at each one.
Another game you like to play is feeding your mom. In an effort to get you more trained to eat solid foods, she’s started feeding you solids every morning for breakfast. She’s found that you are more likely eat if she gives you your own spoon, which you can play with and chew on between bites, otherwise you spend your whole time grabbing for the spoon. So of course, it wasn’t long before you discovered that you could hold your spoon out as if you were trying to feed your mom, and she would play along and make munching noises. You think this is hilarious.
Speaking of eating, I came to a realization about your personality last month. We were eating burritos at your Uncle Dave and Aunt Rose’s house, and I was watching your cousin Milo eat anything his mom would give him, from bits of tortilla to refried beans and guacamole — whatever she put on that tray would immediately go into his mouth. It reminded me of when his brother, your cousin Oskar was a baby and just as good an eater. Meanwhile, you were daintily pushing a puff around your tray. You seemed to be having a good time picking it up, and sometimes you would even bring it up to your mouth, but it never quite made it inside. We decided to try feeding you some guacamole, and while you had a good time smearing it around on the tray and feeling it squish between your fingers, you showed no motivation whatsoever to put it in your mouth. When your mom did smear some on your lips, you looked offended, and went back to smearing, carefully ignoring the green stuff on your lips.
It’s not that you won’t eat — if we sit down with baby food and a spoon, you’re happy to let us feed you — but you’ve never really been interested in the act of eating itself. You’ll spend the whole time trying to grab the spoon, and if we let you have it, you’ll happily play with it and chew on it – but while most babies are grabbing at whatever food their parents have, you’re only interested in the peripherals like silverware and napkins.
Which led me to realize that most babies have something they’re interested in. Oskar and Milo have always been good eaters, fascinated by food. When Gavin was a baby, he was interested in exploring. When he came to visit, before we could play, he had to be walked around the house to check everything out. Other babies are most interested in socializing, and start talking early.
You do a little bit of all of those things, but what you’re really interested in is how things work. When you read a book, you’re most interested in turning the pages. When you eat, you’re most interested in the spoon, or picking up and moving around a puff, or smearing around baby food on your hands. When you crawl on the carpet, you try to pick up the little bits of carpet fuzz. When you see me open the glass doors on the bookshelves, you want to crawl over and interact with them yourself. When we play with a ball, you’re watching how I move it around. And when we talk to you, you’re watching how we move our lips to form words.
My revelation was that you’re a mechanical engineer, fascinated by the actions that go into everything around you much more than the results of the action. For you, the process of eating is much more interesting than the actual experience of food in your mouth.
It’s possible that I’m reading between the lines too much, but I love the idea that even at this early age, my baby girl is a geek in the making. I’ve already addedThe Way Things Work to your wishlist.
But I think the development this month that’s had the biggest impact on your mom is you’ve started talking a little bit. For months now, you’ve mostly just babbled random baby syllables, but this month you’ve started purposely associating “mama” and “dada” with your mom and me. The way this comes out most often is that when you’re playing with me or you see me walk into the room, you’ll let out long strings of “dadadadadadada,” but the reason your mom is touched is that you’ve started calling for her when you’re tired or hungry. When you bonk your head, or if you’re tired and hungry, and I’m holding you, you arch away and start looking at the door and saying “mamamamama” until she comes in. Your mom always knew you loved her, of course, but there’s something special about seeing you reach out for her and call her name when you need her, and there are some nights where you’ve practically had her in tears because suddenly you’re reaching for her.
This has been quite a month! Next month promises to be just as exciting, and it’ll bring your first birthday! It’s really hard to believe that it’s already been nearly a year…
I love you, baby girl!